The Phoenix Suns open the 2015-16 season against a retooled Dallas Mavericks team with more turnover than the Suns, and a lot more injury issues. Wesley Matthews (achilles) played, but Chandler Parsons (knee) and JaVale McGee (left shin stress fracture) did not.
The Suns, meanwhile, were relatively healthy with every player on the active roster. Only Cory Jefferson was inactive, as each team can only suit up 13 players.
Yet, the Suns got plowed. Seriously plowed, by what felt like a lot more than 16 points.
Jon Leuer provided 14 points and 7 rebounds. Devin Booker scored 14 points on 6/7 shooting (1/2 on threes).
That was about all the positives. Markieff Morris laid a big huge dump - 4 points (1/6 shooting), 1 rebound and FIVE fouls in 11 minutes. Worst, he put out zero effort when he wasn't trying to shoot. The rest of the starting lineup just didn't look good at all together.
The anthem rocked, put on by a little kid with great pipes, and the Suns intro video was cool, showing the guys interacting in the community rather than just dunking basketballs.
The game itself started slowly. The Suns came out determined to play tough basketball, but couldn't find the offensive rhythm while the Mavericks just played/slogged through it. There will be growing pains.
The Suns lost the first quarter, 24-22, despite GOAT Jon Leuer hitting a buzzer-beater because they didn't play with a lot of purpose. The team played with effort, for sure, adding up to 11 fouls committed in 12 minutes. But they didn't play very controlled on offense.
Within 18 minutes of game time, all 13 Suns who suited up had taken the court. Makes it an easy decision when half the team is in foul trouble.
Devin Booker, at 18 years old for the next day, became the second youngest player to EVER take the court in a regular season game for the Phoenix Suns. He didn't take a shot in his minute of time, but he was out there.
By halftime, the Suns penchant for committing fouls got them in big trouble (19 fouls!), taking them out of rhythm while giving the Mavericks an easy out on many possessions (they made 15-20 free throws in the half). Overall, 33 of the Mavs 54 points were on fast breaks and free throws. That's not really making it hard on them, is it Suns?
Combine that with 33% shooting and 10 turnovers and you've got a sizable deficit.
Suns down 54-45 at halftime.
Now the Suns have a long way to go to win this game, and it didn't have to happen that way.
AND THAT WAS THE GOOD HALF
Let's see how the Suns come out to start the second half. It's not about effort or intensity. They had that in the first half. It's about being smart and collected, and making the easy shots easy.
Mavs start the half with a 11-1 run of course, taking the lead to 19. Yeah.
Oh wait. Make that a 17-5 run.
Wait wait. That's 30-10. Yeah, that's the run. 30-10 Mavs to start the second half.
AND THEY WEREN'T EVEN TRYING THAT HARD
By the time the Mavs led 84-58, they were shooting better on threes (66%) than the Suns on free throws (65%).
Need I go on?
Hey, at least Devin Booker took and made the first shot of his career. So there's that.
I'm done here.
Suns lose by a gagillion.
And it wasn't even that close.